THE HEART OF KANJI: Unconditional, without expectation


Mujoken. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

This is the second rule for a harmonious relationship (to read the first, please see the March 29, 2018 issue of the Nichi Bei Weekly):

無 (mu) means “nothingness.” The bottom four dots are fire flames. The middle lines represent a house and the top lines represent a new life growing from the ground. The house burned down by fire has become ashes, but a new life starts from these ashes.

条 (jo) means “article.” The lines above are hands, and below is a tree. The tree branches indicate hands and they spread out accordingly.

件 (ken) means “requirement.” The left side represents a person and the right side represents a claw, so this character shows the difference between man and animal. Together, they make up joken, which means “condition, requirement or expectation.”

Many relationships between wife and husband or others come with strong expectations. For example, if I love you, you should love me the same way or amount. Or, I show you kindness, so you should show me the same kindness. In English, there’s a phrase “give and take.” This concept appears to make sense, but it may or may not work. If you expect others to treat you with the same kindness you show them, you may be very disappointed if they do not share the same kindness or love. If you don’t expect anything from others by showing your unconditional love or kindness, you will not be disappointed.

Back when I had expectations of others, and did not receive kindness from them, I was always disappointed and upset.

I mentioned before about a half and half relationship. This concept does not work because you may have expectations of others, and when they don’t give you half, you will be disappointed. Instead of having expectations of others, you should give them your love and kindness unconditionally. Only then will you be at ease in your life. If you possess such a great heart, when someone unexpectedly shows small kindness or love, you will appreciate it greatly.

For example, I would like to share with you a story.

A boy quit attending high school, causing his parents started to worry about him. They pushed their son even farther from going back to school. When his parents made it clear that they expected him to go back to school, he stopped talking with his parents and stayed all day in his room. One day, they noticed that there was no sound coming from his room. They thought he might have died, so they checked his room and found out their son was still alive. They were very grateful that he was still alive. Since then, they decided to leave everything up to Kami/God without any expectation for their son. They would try to be happy as long as he lived. Soon after that, their son came out of his room, and began attending school. Their son graduated from school and entered Konko seminary school and became a Konko minister.

Once they stopped having expectations for their son and gave him unconditional love, their son was blessed with good fortune.

Rev. Masato Kawahatsu is a minister at the Konko Church of San Francisco and Konko Center of South San Francisco, who teaches shodo (Japanese calligraphy). He can be reached at or (415) 517-5563. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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